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New MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, MINI’s first proper SUV, makes its North American debut

MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Countryman
MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Countryman MINI

MINI, a car company long synonymous with small cars, is debuting its all-new Countryman in North America, a totally redesigned vehicle that is now classified as an SUV.

“With its increased versatility and dimensions, the all-new MINI Countryman is now classified as an SUV in the U.S. market,” MINI said in a statement.

The new MINI Countryman isn’t just a bloated version of what you already see on the road, though. MINI purposefully created a small SUV to help round out its lineup. With this vehicle, MINI will soon have new vehicles almost as small as the original MINI through to a proper small SUV – and several variants between those two models.

Starting at $46,900, the new MINI is priced like an SUV, too. Production starts in March 2024, with vehicles set to arrive in driveways starting in May 2024.

The new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman

So, what are you getting for your money? Here’s a rundown of new features found in the new MINI Countryman:

  • A more upright design. MINI made its SUV upright to exude a “sense of adventure,” To us, it seems as though MINI was rightfully catering to a demanding SUV buyer. To our eye, it looks like a smaller Range Rover, and we love it. MINI claims the vehicle has a drag coefficient of 0.26, making it the most aerodynamic vehicle in its class.
  • Redesigned Cooper Works badging. MINI says “The John Cooper Works logo has also been redesigned with a
    modern, clearcut look. For the first time, this all-new logo is being used on the new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman in the classic black, red, and white color scheme.
  • Sensors and safety features. MINI’s new John Cooper Works Countryman has 12 ultrasonic sensors and four surround-view cameras, making level-two driving assistance possible. The Driving Assistant Professional package helps the vehicle change lanes safely; it scans the road around you and identifies the proper speed and timing for a lane change. Drivers can also take their hands off the wheel for a brief time on highways with speeds up to 60 miles per hour.
  • A minimalist interior. MINI’s new design language involves a pared-down interior bolstered by a large, circular center display. MINI kept its familiar toggle panel below the screen for “important driving functions,” and you’ll find some controls on the steering wheel for things like setting the cruise control or controlling speaker volume.
  • A voice assistant. MINI now has a dedicated voice assistant residing in the center console. We’ve not yet tested the assistant, but MINI tells us it can do things you ask it to, like get directions when you’re lost and turn on seat warmers when you’re cold.

A two-liter turbo engine has “optimized pistons, connecting rods and engine mounts” to ge the most out of the engine, which also has a dual-drive exhaust turbocharger. MINI also increased the wheel diameter (19 and 20-inch wheels are available) for its SUV to give it a “go-kart feeling.”

Our take on the new MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Countryman

There’s a lot to like, and dozens of small additions and tweaks we haven’t touched on. This is MINI reborn; like most car companies, it’s worked hard to differentiate itself and expand its lineup.

We’ve not driven it yet, of course, but we have sat inside it. It’s spacious without trying too hard for the driver and front passenger, thought he rear is a touch cramped when you have the seat all the way back. It’s still a MINI, after all.

Bells and whistles position the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman well in the small SUV class of vehicles, but we’re curious to know how it drives. The thing that has always set MINI apart is its driving dynamics. MINI promises its first SUV will feel similar to its smaller cars, and we really hope that’s true. A small SUV that’s actually fun to drive may push MINI to the top of the small SUV class, no questions asked.

Nate Swanner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nate is General Manager for all not-Digital-Trends properties at DTMG, including The Manual, Digital Trends en Espanol…
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